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A.J. Burnett, Pedro Alvarez lead Pirates to 2-1 victory

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Burnett pitched 7.2 strong innings, and Pedro Alvarez hit a walk-off single in the ninth as the Pirates beat the Padres Monday, 2-1.

After a scoreless first, Burnett allowed a walk, a single and another walk in the second before giving up a sacrifice fly by Alexi Amarista. He escaped the inning without further damage. So the Padres didn't get much, and they got even less in the next several innings, as Burnett retired 15 straight batters from the end of the second inning to the seventh. That inning, he did allow two hits but escaped with a double play involving two separate rundowns.

Burnett pitched well benefited somewhat from a relatively large strike zone, but so did opposing starter James Shields, who stayed a step ahead of Burnett in the early going. Through the first six innings, the Pirates (who were, of course, missing Starling Marte and Josh Harrison) had managed only one hit against him.

In the seventh, though, Andrew McCutchen hit a one-out double, and Shields hit Francisco Cervelli with a 1-2 pitch. Pedro Alvarez then hit a grounder to the left side of the infield. Yangervis Solarte made a nice stop, but then his throw to first took a strange bounce, and McCutchen came around to tie the game at one.

Burnett finally left in the eighth, an inning that was extended by a foul ball call against Derek Norris that should have been a third strike that would have given the Bucs the third out of the inning. Norris then singled, and then Solarte did too, and the Pirates replaced Burnett with Tony Watson, who whiffed Matt Kemp.

Jared Hughes pitched the top of the ninth for the Pirates and gave up two hits, although he got a boost when Cervelli easily threw out Justin Upton at second. After Yonder Alonso followed with a single, Hughes got Jedd Gyorko to ground into a double play.

Brandon Maurer pitched the bottom of the ninth for the Padres and gave up a one-out walk to McCutchen. Jung-Ho Kang then singled up the middle, and after Cervelli flied out, Alvarez came to the plate. Against a deafening soundtrack of crowd noise, Alvarez singled, and McCutchen trotted home. Alvarez clapped as he headed toward first. Showing emotion isn't normally his M.O., but it's great to see it every once in awhile. The Pirates are, remarkably, now 48-34, having won eight of their last ten.